Last week was too busy to write:

  • we had a one-day company delivery offsite
  • Sabrina and I ran an in-person, half-day educational format introducing policy people to digital-ready policy and visualization
  • a lot of collaboration work on the topics of visualization and service evaluation happened as the whole team was in Berlin 💙
  • different exchanges with counterparts of the government on the topics of visualization, notations and digital-ready laws
  • an inspiring exchange with an organization on the municipality level on how they work with process visualizations and how they got the topic off the ground in the last few years

This week was not less busy, but it was more focused. As I am currently on a train traveling through a rainy German autumn day, I intend to utilize this time for reflection. This week I:

  • was irritated by the rudimentary, basic level that the open consultation of the new OZG architecture start out at ( I hoped for a bit more groundwork already done especially since this is by no means a “new” topic.
  • drafted requirements for a new engineering position on the team. It turned out to be a bit more work than I had expected. During the process, it came to my notice that the DDTM Framework of GOV.UK was retired. I therefore used the Wayback Machine to revisit it, sad to see it go!
  • worked on our prototype, which aims to make notation and tools in the realm of visualization more accessible to policymakers. Together with the team, we:
    • detailed our high level idea-pitch with a user journey.
    • extended this user journey with different lanes (tracking, system actions and assumptions).
    • derived the riskiest assumptions and decided what we need to build to test these.
    • started building, designing, and sense making.
    • spent some time thinking about the outcome / impact of the notation finder to have an idea what it looks like when we are successful.
  • sparred with our engineer on the 2nd focus stream.
  • facilitated the team’s retro
  • participated in the Agile Community of Practice and discussed team topologies for an hour
  • had four different lunch dates, ranging from colleagues to good friends, all inspiring
  • took part in a launch event for a “data tank”, networking with some other public servants that also rely on creative problem-solving to get “digital” done in the public sector.
  • spent some quality time with a good friend who visited Berlin - might now have a new favorite afternoon break format, the English tea time with “posh” short bread.
  • drafted some 360 feedback
  • participated in our environmental sustainability working session
  • participated in our product discussion club, where we discussed the GIST Framework (Goals, Ideas, Steps, Tasks). Tbh I am not sold on the framework, not opposing the idea at all (we already work close to the intentions of the framework), rather it feels like merely old wine in new bottles. I loved that we discussed our products goals, though.
  • inspired by the product discussion club, I updated our internal confluence landing page with the current vision and goals.

Embracing delivery, a welcome reunion

Over the last few weeks we focused on strategy work, while important, I always get a bit of an uneasy feeling if we stay for too long in the theoretical space because: the best strategy is delivery. So it felt good to refocus most of the subteam’s attention back on creating a tangible outcome for our users. Based on the research, we did to discover how visualizations help with the digital-readiness of policy. We doubled down to build a prototype to test the hypothesis that with the right information and pointers to tools, policy personnel will create better visualizations, leading to more digital-ready policy.

We based our work on the good foundation of some idea-sketches we used for the strategy work, and a write-up I did about goals, state of business, lessons learned and strategic priorities of the idea (following the Amazon 6-pager narrative). We gathered as a team (Design, Engineering, Product), and started to detail and carve out the first iteration of what we want to test. To make it actionable we decided on using this process:

  1. Create the user journey (activities & steps)
  2. Detailing to create common understanding
  3. Collaborative assumption writing
  4. Ranking the assumptions → focusing on the riskiest assumptions
  5. Derive what we need to test these
  6. Agreeing on that first chunk With a shared understanding, a clear goal and, a tiny team, we do not need the corset of a full-fledged scrum set-up as this would just create too much overhead. After a week, of work we have a repository, the tech-stack and hosting up and running. Furthermore, we made some progress on the overall user experience in the Figma prototype and started to think about the logic behind our recommendations.
  • As mentioned above, I (tried to) revisited the Digital Data and Technology Framework. I was looking for the four skill levels -> WebArchiveVersion:
    • Awareness. You know about the skill and have an appreciation of how it is applied in the environment.
    • Working. You can apply your knowledge and experience of the skill, including tools and techniques. You can adopt those most appropriate for the environment.
    • Practitioner. You know how to share your knowledge and experience of this skill with others, including tools and techniques. You can define those most appropriate for the environment.
    • Expert. You have both knowledge and experience in the application of this skill. You are a recognised specialist and adviser in this skill including user needs, generation of ideas, methods and tools. You can lead or guide others in best-practice use.
  • My co-worker Sabrina is also writing weeknotes.
  • A nice opinion piece about Germany’s approach to digital government: I agree with the “Handlungsfähigkeitsnarrativ” - (while this will not be political viable, it is still important) as well as the approach to rebrand digital as a tool to deliver other things.
  • A collection of different tools with infinity canvases, a colleague recommended it to me
  • Revisited this gem:, a delightful write-up on how to design great (digital) forms.
  • Late to the party, but got hooked to the podcast “The Lazarus Heist”. Enjoyed listening to it, as it is very well produced and good investigative research (all old stuff but nicely presented…).